AI

AI – Artificial Intelligence – sounds like another buzzword floating in the air of Brussels when we talk about future R&D priorities. There are many interpretations of what AI means, while some people are already grumbling that it’s just another fad. Personally, I believe that now is the time for practical examples of deployment of AI in medical practice. No more buzzwords, let’s get real! The European Commission is releasing three calls in its ICT Programme and Health Programme for 2019-2020. These topics call for collaborative projects, either fundamental or applied, classified in EC jargon as Research & Innovation Actions or Innovation Actions, respectively. In total, more than 100 M€ is being invested in AI for healthcare topics by the European Commission. The calls address: AI for Health Imaging (DT-TDS-05-2020, 13 Nov 2019, €35 million) AI for the smart hospital of the future (DT-ICT-12-2020, 20 April 2020, €40 million) AI for Genomics and Personalised Medicine (DT-TDS-04-2020, 20 April 2020, €35 million) I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the preparation of a proposal on AI for the smart hospital of the future. In order to strictly meet the requirements of the calls and the expected impacts – we all know that impact can make or break a proposal – we have assembled a very diverse group of partners comprising medtech companies, hospitals, health economists and, of course, AI companies. Finding a suitable AI partner was not so easy. I must confess that identifying a European Company with proven experience in AI in healthcare has been challenging because the field is so young. It also raises the question of European sovereignty in AI, especially in healthcare. Of course, inviting one of the big four tech companies – Google, Apple Facebook and Amazon (GAFAM) – would have been the first option for...
Everything we know about healthcare will be totally different in twenty years. But while breath-taking new technologies become available, I believe our most important task is to integrate them in a way that always benefits patients. Emerging medical technologies are fantastic tools with which we can completely reimagine the continuum of care. We can redesign how, when and where healthcare is delivered to improve the quality of our lives and the sustainability of healthcare systems. Artificial intelligence is the most powerful breakthrough I see in healthcare. Digital health will revolutionize prevention, diagnosis, care and long-term monitoring, profoundly transforming outcomes for patients. While there may be some reluctance to ‘trust’ machines today for both security and ethical issues which must be addressed, I may imagine a day when it would be unethical not to consult AI before making clinical decisions. There are other fields where we can see awe-inspiring progress. In nanomedicine, biomaterials, photonics and robotics, innovation is becoming a reality for patients. These technologies can combine to deliver unprecedented solutions: nanoparticles to treat cancer without using drugs, artificial pancreas to make life with diabetes simpler, exoskeletons controlled by the brain of patients with disabilities, retinal implants to treat age-related blindness, etc. Today’s health systems are mainly responsive. We are still focusing on acute, short-term responses to chronic conditions. This is inefficient. I see three ways in which technologies can transform the continuum of care for the good of patients. First, a modern health system should seek to avoid the acute phase of care through smarter prevention and earlier diagnosis. Basically, it is all about not becoming a patient, through wellness care. Second, we must optimize the management of the acute phase when it occurs. Patients who require hospitalisation should benefit from personalized approaches and a faster return to their normal...
Artificial Intelligence
At the turn of the century, healthcare companies were at the zenith of an ‘innovate-manufacture-sell’ business model. It was a good time to be in medical technology. European and American companies were leading the way. While for many companies, this model is still alive and well, those at the forefront of the AI and robotics curve know they are part of a new revolution in healthcare. In the not too distant future our measurements of success won’t be in units sold, but instead in dramatically better outcomes for more patients everywhere, as well as in software programmes being used, numbers of surgeons trained, and millions of euros saved for health systems. This is all because of the promise artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and big data hold to improve clinical outcomes, reduce health system costs and heighten the patient experience. These just so happen to be the core challenges facing mature healthcare systems in the 21 st century. AI, robotics and big data: Bigger than the sum of their parts It’s important not to see AI, robotics and big data as one amorphous ‘digital’ concept. They are concrete, separate advances in technology that, when applied to healthcare deliver results bigger than the sum of their parts. Increasing computing processing power means larger and larger data sets can be collected. In the past, medical research considered a few thousand patients a large study. Hospitals often conducted their research in isolation. Today, data sets on clinical outcomes for entire populations can be collected to provide powerful insights. Robotics started to take off in the late 2000s as a means of driving forward the advances made during the laparoscopic revolution of the 1990s. With ever increasing precision of robots, robotic surgery is being expanded to delicate eye surgery, neurosurgery and re-constructive microsurgeries (e.g. blood...